Four-stage RO for London desalination plant

The UK’s 150,000 m³/d Thames Gateway brackish-water reverse-osmosis (RO) desalination plant, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, on 2 June 2010, has a four-stage RO process.

Thames Water says that this enables the company to recover more water than a 2-3 stage process. Consequently, 85% of the water taken from the river Thames, which is tidal at Beckton where the plant is sited, can be turned into drinking water.

The £ 270 million (US$ 389 million) plant has a three-stage pretreatment system involving lamella clarifiers, pressure filters and a Norit ultrafiltration system. Energy recovery from the RO system, which uses Nitto Denko/Hydranautics membranes, is via Pelton turbines.

Acciona Agua of Spain built the plant, which will be run using biodiesel. The desalinated water will be blended with other supplies to feed up to 580,000 homes in northeast London.